CSRC Annual Report

Page 1

transforming society

enable student success


use-inspired research

fuse intellectual disciplines

be socially embedded


engage globally

2 0 1 7


Year in Review

Message from Interim Director John Carlson From the local to the global it has been an eventful year. After 15 years as founding director, Linell Cady stepped down to return to full-time research and teaching. What an amazing legacy she has left to ASU and the wider community. In addition to an extended research leave, she deserves our enduring respect and gratitude for her dedicated service. The Center has grown significantly since Linell started it many years ago, and I pledge to build, not rest, on her successes. This past year, journalist and sociologist Anand Gopal joined the center as assistant research professor. He splits his time between ASU and the global hot spots on which he reports. As well, Sarah Lords, our new outreach coordinator, has brought incredible energy and creativity to the team. Around the country and the world, we have crossed into a new era. The election of Donald Trump. The United Kingdom’s Brexit referendum. The rise of authoritarian and nationalist movements in Russia, the Philippines, Turkey, Brazil, and elsewhere. White supremacist movements in the United States openly march and demonstrate, while other citizens protest Confederate monuments and football players kneel in solidarity. In some form or fashion, religion is at work in all these trends and conflicts, whether it is religious nationalism, civil religion, or religious resistance. Times and issues such as these underscore the urgency of the work we do. We will not shy away from the challenges of this moment but will confront them head on: through ongoing research initiatives in such areas as peace studies and global citizenship; through public lectures and outreach such as our pre- and post-election programs addressing the forces leading to Trump’s election; and by educating the next generation of citizens through our student programs. Please take a few moments to review our annual report and familiarize yourself with the center’s many efforts to analyze, understand, and help heal our world. As always, we remain grateful to our many friends and supporters who help make this work possible. Yours sincerely, John D. Carlson, Interim Director

Carolyn Forbes

Yasmin Saikia

Assistant Director

Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies

Matt Correa

Laurie Perko

Pawan Rehill

Administrative Coordinator

International Program Coordinator

4 Year in Review Assistant Research Administator

Anand Gopal Assistant Research Professor

Linell Cady Founding Director

Sarah Lords Communication, Event, & Outreach Coordinator


Fall 2016 to Spring 2017


Leadership Transition at the Center


Prizewinning Journalist Joins the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict



Religion and Global Citizenship: Utopian Fantasy or Bridge to the Future?

International Networking and Cultural Exchange

7-8 9 - 10 11 - 12

Religion, Sports, and Violence Beyond Secularizaton: Religion, Science, and Technology Initiative in Peace Studies

13 - 14 15 - 16

Students 17 - 18

Friends of the Center Research Awards

Alumna Speaks to Impact


Undergraduate Fellows Research Program


Religion and Social Change

21 22

Undergraduate Certificates in Religion and Conflict Events

Fostering Community Education

23 - 24

Community Support and Impact

25 - 26

Friends of the Center

The Center gratefully recognizes our 2016-17 student interns: Year in Review Ann Perez, Christopher Jordan, and Erin Schulte


transforming society

Year in Review


July 1, 2016




2 017

October 20, 2016 RELIGION & CONFLICT: ALTERNATIVE VISIONS Presidential Politics and the Making of American Identity

October 6, 2016

August 7-9, 2016

A group of scholars from different disciplines, traditions, and regions meet to explore how globalization is changing the nature, scope, and moral responsibilities of citizenship

2 016


September 7, 2016

Templeton awards grant to interdisciplinary team of Ben Hurlbut, Gaymon Bennett, Linell Cady and Hava Tirosh-Samuelson for their project “Beyond Secularization: Piloting New Approaches to the Study of Religion, Science and Technology in Public Life”

International Workshop on Religion and Global Citizenship London, United Kingdom


Religion, Conflict, and Terrorism in the Public Consciousness Panelists John Carlson, Anand Gopal, Daniel Rothenberg, Delia Saenz, and Linell Cady reflect on the 15th year anniversary of 9/11 and how it shaped our views of the relationship among religion, politics, and conflict

MAXINE & JONATHAN MARSHALL SPEAKER SERIES Religion and Conflict: A View from the State Department

Panelists Edward Curtis, Robert Jones, Laura Olson, and Linell Cady discuss the role of religion, race, and gender in the 2016 presidential campaign

Shaun Casey, the U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs, speaks on the importance of religious actors for understanding international relations and U.S. foreign policy

2016 October 13, 2016 September 26, 2016 August 15, 2016 Ayesha Bugvi, Abida Eijaz and Shabbir Sarwar, visiting scholars from University of the Punjab (Pakistan), begin semester-long residencies

Understanding the (Surprisingly) Religious History of American Secularism Sociologist Jacques Berlinerblau traces the complex evolution of the American secular idea, focusing on its religious roots and its relevance for today

Takin’ it to the Streets: Promoting Social Justice through Communication Activism Research and Teaching Communications professor Lawrence Frey addresses the role of academic theory, research methods, and pedagogy for the practice and process of social change

November 2, 2016 What is Specific About the Drama of Athletic Events? Towards a Phenomenology of Stadium Crowds Literature professor Hans Gumbrecht discusses his work analyzing and understanding forms of aesthetic experience— particularly the religiouslike quality of sports—in everyday life

August 18, 2016 2016-17 Undergraduate Research Fellows Seminar begins

November 21, 2016 Sarah Lords joins the Center as the new Communication, Outreach, and Events Coordinator


Year in Review

January 9, 2017

March 1, 2017

April 27-28, 2017

March 30, 2017

Ayesha Ashfaq, Fahad Mahmood Ra’ana Malik, and Asma Yunus, visiting scholars from University of the Punjab (Pakistan), begin semester-long residencies At the Center of the Storm: Syria, ISIS, and the Refugee Crisis Warzone journalist Anand Gopal addresses the civil war in Syria and its impact on the region

January 22, 2017 Sociologist and prizewinning journalist Anand Gopal joins center as assistant research professor

Migration, Refugees, and Religious Perspectives

Religion, Civilization, Cooperation, and Conflict

An international and multidisciplinary group of scholars explore how religion factors into current political climates regarding refugees and migrants around the world

Religious studies scholar Edward Slingerland uses an anthropological lens to examine the link between religious belief and the rise of large-scale societies

2017 February 13, 2017

Religion and Democracy in a New Global Era

March 16, 2017 Making Sense of the Trump Revolt: Where Do the Two Parties Go from Here? Political theorist Joshua Mitchell explores globalization, identity politics, and the social, economic, and political forces behind the election of Donald Trump

Is politics the new religion? Brookings Fellow Shadi Hamid discusses the religious frameworks that influence collective meaning and purpose in the U.S. and the Middle East

Religion, Citizenship, and Globalization Workshop

Ethnic/Religious Identities and Party Competition A conference exploring conditions that drive citizens to vote against their economic interests and to embrace politicians or parties that emphasize national pride, ethnic affinities, and religious identity

April 4, 2017 Placing Pakistan: Engaging Multidisciplinary Approaches Conference An interdisciplinary group of scholars explore diverse sites of change in contemporary Pakistan

April 27, 2017

March 16-17, 2017

February 16-17, 2017

May 13, 2017 Student Awards Ceremony

A workshop examining how religion and globalization are changing the nature, meaning, scope, and responsibilities of citizenship, in both national and global contexts

Annual luncheon recognizing undergraduate and graduate Friends of the Center research awardees, Undergraduate Research Fellows, and students who earned a Certificate in Religion and Conflict

June 30, 2017 Founding director Linell Cady steps down; associate director John Carlson named interim director

HARDT-NICKACHOS PEACE STUDIES FILM SERIES Screening of Salam Neighbor followed by a panel discussing featuring David Androff, Aysar Al Khafaji, and Yasmin Saikia engaging the possibilities of hope in the Syrian refugee crisis

Center staff bid farewell to Linell Cady

Year in Review


Leadership Transition at the Center After fifteen years, Linell Cady, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, has stepped down. John Carlson, associate professor of religious studies, has been appointed interim director. Carlson, who had been serving as associate director of the Center, began the transition to his new role over the summer. Cady led the center since its inception in 2003 when it was launched by ASU President Michael Crow to respond to the increasing role of religion in global affairs. Cady oversaw and participated in a number of prestigious and groundbreaking research projects funded by leading institutions such as the Ford, Templeton, and Luce Foundations. She published three volumes that emerged from these projects and is currently working on a fourth on the relationship between religion and global citizenship. She also worked closely with private donors to establish a series of initiatives, including the popular public lecture series “Religion and Conflict: Alternative Visions” and the Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative. These initiatives support a wide variety of events that have brought thousands of people to ASU over the past fifteen years. Cady also worked to establish a faculty chair in peace studies that has created new research networks, projects, and classes. Overall, Cady’s efforts to foster dialogue and collaboration among diverse experts—bridging ASU with partners from around the world—resulted in close to $20M in external research funding. Cady now returns to full-time research and teaching following a research leave. She plans to develop new courses based on insights she gained directing the center. 5

Year in Review

Carlson is now interim director, having served as the center’s associate director for the last 12 years, including as acting director during the 2015-16 academic year. His scholarship explores the religious and ethical dimensions of political life, with particular focus on issues of war and peace, religion and violence, and human rights. He writes frequently for scholarly and public audiences on these and other issues. He also brings to the center significant leadership skills, having served for over 25 years—active and reserve—as an officer in the U.S. Navy. His service also affords him a unique practical perspective to his scholarship and teaching. “In a relatively short period of time, Linell has created one of the leading research centers on religion and public affairs in the country. She has performed an incredible service to ASU—and her impact extends well beyond it given the center’s work around the world,” Carlson added. As associate director, Carlson partnered closely with Cady on several sponsored projects. He has led or coled key initiatives on religion, human rights, and gender as well as on and religion and global citizenship. He has helped secure over $1.5M in external research funding and was a driving force behind the creation of the undergraduate certificate in religion and conflict. “I have had the privilege of working alongside John since he joined the center,” said Cady. “I am confident he will continue to advance its work, bringing his strengths and expertise to bear on the important questions that the center addresses. It has been an incredible experience to direct the center these past fifteen years, and I know I am leaving it in good hands.”

Gopal’s on-the-ground experiences as a reporter in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria have shaped the kinds of academic questions that he pursues as a sociologist.

enable student success

Prizewinning warzone journalist and sociologist Anand Gopal joined the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict this year as an assistant research professor.

transforming society

Prizewinning Journalist Joins the Center

The Center’s leadership team recognized not only his tremendous talent, but the unique blend of skills, experience, insight, and expertise that he brings to critical research questions and projects.

Gopal chronicled his experiences in No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War through Afghan Eyes. The book won the Ridenhour Book Prize and was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award.

As a research professor at ASU, with joint appointments to the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Center on the Future of War, he will contribute to an expanding interdisciplinary environment where scholarly excellence is brought to bear on practical issues and problems facing our world today.

Year in Review

engage globally

“I know of no other academic or journalist,” says Carlson, “who has so courageously pursued his calling to find the truth that he would fly to Afghanistan, grow a beard, learn Pashtun, and live among Afghans so he could tell the story of the war from their perspective.”

“His training in sociology and his ethnographic approach to reporting equip Gopal with distinctive and significant experiences for understanding the sources and persistence of war and conflict in the Middle East,” says Carlson.

be socially embedded

“From what I was seeing, things in Afghanistan were getting much worse,” said Gopal. “So when I decided to switch careers it seemed like the obvious place to go see what the war on terror looks like on the ground.”

Just as people in one village would help him get safely to another village through their networks of family and friends, Gopal realized that these same sorts of networks also hold the key to problems of state formation and national identity.

fuse intellectual disciplines

Following the US response to 9/11, he saw the public was getting an incomplete picture of the war in Afghanistan.

use-inspired research

Gopal’s path into warzone journalism began with a profound experience, one that ultimately led him to reset his career trajectory. On 9/11, he found himself huddled beneath a car, breathing fresh air through a subway grate for hours as the dust of the Twin Towers rained down.


Global Citizenship Utopian Fantasy or Bridge to the Future?

Religion and Global Citizenship is a multiyear research project co-directed by Linell Cady and John Carlson. Funded by a grant from the Henry Luce Foundation, the initiative explores relations of conflict and cooperation between global citizenship and religious identities.

The Brexit vote had just taken place and the TrumpClinton campaign was in full swing as a group of scholars from ASU, Europe, and the Middle East met in London to discuss the issue of global citizenship. The global resurgence of nationalism generated a remarkable energy and urgency around the following questions: • Do citizens of one nation have a moral responsibility to others beyond their national borders? How do religious, cultural and philosophical perspectives support this view—or undercut it? • What moral duties, if any, do states have to respond to international crises? Do they have a responsibility to open their borders to refugees? To protect victims of human rights abuses in other countries? To intervene militarily for humanitarian purposes? • Do individuals, institutions, or nations have a responsibility to address global problems such as extreme poverty, climate change, and human trafficking?



In short, what is global citizenship? How do we account for the nationalist backlash against it? And what are the dangers or prospects for success of this pervasive moral discourse? “Global citizenship” is used to sell everything from handbags to higher education. Yet the term also evokes a sense of deep aspiration, care, and concern for an inclusive, almost religious, vision of human community. To gain a sense of how this concept is understood around the world, a team from the Center organized a series of workshops in Southeast Asia, Europe, and the United States. The workshops underscored the way in which the idea of global citizenship operates in a range of legal, moral, and political registers. Debates erupted about the relationship of global citizenship to national citizenship; about the relationship of transnational identities such as religion, ethnicity or language to global citizenship; and about the ways in which secular discourse often limits progress by framing religion as the opposite of global citizenship.

transforming society enable student success use-inspired research

Some argue global citizenship is an oxymoron. Others claim it is a utopian fantasy. In either case, the aspirations at the heart of global citizenship as an idea endure.

Visiting scholars included author and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Shadi Hamid; Richard Falk, professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University; and Peggy Levitt, professor and chair of the sociology department at Wellesley College.

be socially embedded engage globally

The international workshops revealed no consensus about the merits or drawbacks of global citizenship. Yet participants unanimously viewed the rise of religious and secular nationalisms as a grave threat because of the way they dim our moral horizons and erode moral responsibilities. Within higher education, global citizenship was seen as a bridge to cultivating a more inclusive sense of responsibility for our shared world. A report and book are on the way.

Over the last year, the research team held an international workshop in London and at ASU, and hosted visiting scholars from around the world.

fuse intellectual disciplines

One of the more surprising findings that emerged over the course of the workshops was the idea that global citizenship might increase its traction by drawing more deeply from religious resources and by appealing to the religious dimensions of human identity. Most religious traditions conceive of their religions, beliefs, and practices as transcending national boundaries. As well, most traditions espouse moral claims and obligations that reinforce the duties of global citizenship. And some of the greatest global citizens—like Martin Luther King and Pope Francis—have been and are religious figures.



“Each activity during the semester contributed towards our holistic growth. The one-on-one research meetings with faculty mentors were most beneficial, as I was able to narrow down my proposed dissertation research area and complete my proposal.” -Ms. Rahla Rahat Spring 2016 cohort



“It was a lifetime opportunity for me that gave me exposure towards American academia and cultural and social life. I wanted to know the areas that are the focus of academics in the US. I wanted to develop more cultural empathy between the US and Pakistan.” -Mr. Fahad Mahmood, Spring 2017 cohort

The center’s first faculty exchange program with Kinnaird College for Women helped build curriculum in American literature at Kinnaird and enhanced research in comparative literature at ASU. Following that partnership’s success, the Center and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication began a second exchange program with University of the Punjab to advance faculty research capacity in the social sciences and journalism.

fuse intellectual disciplines be socially embedded

Throughout the semester, visiting scholars from Pakistan present their work to the ASU team to receive feedback for improving their research. An extended network of faculty from a range of units—including the Schools of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, Politics and Global Studies, Social Transformation, and Sustainability, the Southwest Interdisciplinary Research Center, and Cronkite—serve as an advisory cohort. Through this collaborative review process, PU and ASU faculty advance a conversation in which issues of religion, cross-cultural research, and public dissemination are engaged. American and Pakistani participants alike become more aware of how issues of religion and culture are involved in the research process and, in turn, how the findings of their research can be better presented in the media.

use-inspired research

“The beauty and value of this collaboration is bringing a more global perspective to issues such as press freedom and ethics in journalism,” says Joseph Russomanno, an associate professor with the Cronkite School. “Working across cultures helps us all to reach beyond narrow, nationalistic approaches and analyze issues in much more complex ways.”

enable student success

Academic exchange programs with Pakistan exemplify the Center’s mission to create networks within and beyond ASU that expand knowledge, deepen understanding across cultures, and promote wiser, more effective responses in our world.

transforming society

“Besides the academic and professional training, I gained an extended vision: a vision extended by empathetic engagement with many different cultures.” -Ms. Seemab Far Bukhari Spring 2016 cohort

International Networking and Cultural Exchange

engage globally

International scholars travel to the Grand Canyon Research


Religion, Sports, and Violence

Are sports sacred? In 2016, NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee during the national anthem to protest racial injustice, setting off a debate about sports, patriotism, and sacred values versus sacred symbols.

provided an invaluable venue for members to gather and discuss their research while also expanding understanding of the relevance of sport in the contemporary world.

About the same time, the Center launched “Religion, Sports, and Violence,” a multi-year initiative focused on the intersections of social issues and sports. The initiative was anchored by a working group that included faculty and graduate students with expertise ranging from history and philosophy to psychology and anthropology.

“The initiative created new collaborations and directions for research on sport,” Shoemaker said. “There were a number of positive outcomes, including a group focused on gender and sport.” ASU also established the Global Sports Institute in 2017.

To advance their work, the group hosted visiting speakers at the center, including Eric Bain-Selbo, the head of philosophy and religion at Western Kentucky University, who spoke on “Sacred Battles: Violence in Southern Sport and Culture,” and Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht, the Albert Guérard Professor in Literature in the Department of Comparative Literature at Stanford University, who asked, “What is Specific About the Drama of Athletic Events?” According to Terry Shoemaker, a doctoral student in religious studies and member of the group, the center 11


Victoria Jackson, a lecturer of history in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and another member of the group, teaches sports history courses with a focus on the social issues surrounding sports. She said much of the work she engaged in the seminar has informed her approach to teaching about manliness, fitness to lead, race, education, and sport. “It was wonderful gathering with other folks across ASU who shared interests in taking sport seriously as an academic subject. We read selections of journal articles or book chapters around a theme to form the foundation for the group’s discussion, and it proved to be quite productive, since we come from a wide range of disciplines.”

“The intense commitments people express toward football, fantasy football, basketball, baseball, and hockey, at both the professional and collegiate level, suggests that sports provides a space similar to religion or spirituality,” Shoemaker said. “This is particularly relevant if one understands the current decline in religious commitments in the U.S. and other developed countries.”

Q: What happens when an athlete expresses religious views publicly?

Some scholars suggest that as religious affiliation declines, people still need a place to invest their commitments. Like many religious traditions, sports can offer communal gathering spaces, symbols, saints, and superstitions.

Many scholars point to the ancient Olympics, where the games were thought to be in honor of the gods. And if one looks at Native American societies, sports often played a sacred role. So, to oversimplify, the relationship between religion and sports goes way back.

I think that some of the more interesting issues involve questions about the regulation of violence and the structuring of the calendar. One of the roles of religion historically has been to create guidelines around violence. Many religions did not completely eliminate violence, but rather ritualized violence: sacrifices, penalties, and atonements, for example. In this regard, football becomes a contemporary example of how violence is permitted and celebrated in society—but only when a code of ethics is followed. Another role of religion historically has been to provide a structuring of time through things like liturgy, holy days, fasts, weekly celebrations, rituals, and commemorations. Sports, likewise, creates a yearly schedule followed by many.

But the relationship wasn’t always a positive one. A fun example that I use in my course is the “Declaration of Sports” issued in 1618 by King James I in England. This book proposed that Sunday was a prime time for the citizens of England to indulge in sporting activities. King James had an ulterior motive for such a suggestion, though. He sought to challenge Puritans, who argued that Sunday was reserved for communal gathering and reflection. James intended to disrupt this notion and sway people from their commitments to Puritanism. Contributing writers include Emma Greguska, Sarah Jarvis, and Matt Correa



engage globally

Q: How far back in history does the relationship between religion and sports go?

be socially embedded

Q: Is sports related to the decline in religious participation and affiliation in the United States?

The unique approach is fun and innovative, but it’s also a way of building community and encouraging interaction among students in an online course, he said.

fuse intellectual disciplines

The course asks students to consider three facets of the relationship between sports and religion: religion in sports, sports in religion, and sports as religion. Read on to get Shoemaker’s perspective:

But in another direction, athletes proclaiming commitments to faiths other than Christianity may produce a public backlash or even a game penalty. In 2014, the Kansas City Chiefs’ Husain Abdullah was penalized when he bowed in the end zone after scoring a touchdown. The NFL later apologized, but Abdullah’s religious demonstration was unrecognizable to the referees. Other examples include female athletes who wear the hijab and are criticized or penalized for not complying with uniform rules.

use-inspired research

As a way to engage students, Shoemaker created a Fantasy Football league for the course. After drafting teams, students research five of their starters’ religious affiliations to understand whether and how they have affected the athletes’ lives and careers.

Athletes’ expressions of religious belief have become commonplace within the United States, especially those proclaiming a Christian faith. It is almost routine that many athletes will “give God the glory” or “thank God” in a post-game interview or after receiving an award. In fact, an athlete expressing Christian views can actually lead to an expanded fan base and subsequent increase in the selling of sporting goods and apparel. Some athletes are even given contracts to speak to religious communities.

enable student success

Think of baseball in this regard: spring training, opening day, All-Star break, playoffs, the World Series. For many, these are the events, often tied to seasons, that structure not only individual lives, but American life as well.

transforming society

Shoemaker also teaches a new course at ASU, “Religion and Sports,” in which he helps students gain an understanding of the relationships between religion and sports in the United States.

Beyond Secularization: Exploring the Intersection of Technology, Science, and Spirituality

How do ideas about science and technological innovation shape how we envision human progress?

One of the most fundamental commitments of research institutions is to imagine that scientific knowledge and spiritual belief are meticulously segregated. This concept of segregation reinforces the secularization of the academy, and is also seen as a driver of human progress. Yet today, techno-scientific progress is widely framed in moral and spiritual terms: biotech evangelists promise transcendence over mortality, and new spiritualities leverage the authority of neurobiology. Society lacks the capacity, however, to reflect critically on its visions of progress and the commitments they entail. Within the large body of scholarship telling the story of secularization, few scholars examine science and technology’s place in this narrative. To fill this void, a team of researchers working with the Center has launched a new project to explore the implications of these narratives for science and society. 13


“Beyond Secularization: Piloting New Approaches to the Study of Religion, Science, and Technology in Public Life,” is a project supported by a $217,000 grant from the Templeton Religion Trust. “The project tackles some really big questions,” says Benjamin Hurlbut, an associate professor in the School of Life Sciences and principal investigator for the project. How do ideas about what science can know and what technological innovation can achieve shape how we envision progress? What role do spiritual and religious imaginations play in such visions? “The idea that science and technology belong in the public sphere and religion and spirituality to the private—and that social progress depends on this separation—obscures what is a much more complex relationship in actual social practice,” says Hurlbut.

international workshop, and developing and teaching new undergraduate classes. “This is a really innovative project that is exploring the increasing hybridization of technoscience, religion and spirituality,” says Cady. “Our conceptual maps push us to imagine we are dealing with separate domains, and so we don’t have

enable student success

The project explores these questions and their consequences with a focus on how the idea of science as a driver of secularization and progress has implications for whose ideas of human purpose and progress get taken seriously in public life.

transforming society

“At the same time, this idea functions as a kind of regulative ideal in public life. It shapes who gets to speak to which questions and on the basis of what authority. This has significant consequences for how societies imagine progress,” says Hurlbut.

use-inspired research

In addition to the series of wide-ranging field studies, the team is also piloting a podcast series, convening an

The grant grows out of the center’s longstanding work on issues of religion, science, and secularization. This work began with an initial seed grant in 2004 to create a faculty seminar on “Being Human: Religion, Science, Technology and Law,” which has met regularly since then. Under the leadership of Tirosh-Samuelson, the seminar spawned a series of high profile grants that has produced six books, two special journals, numerous articles, and a series of prominent lectures, conferences and workshops. Clearly, the questions first raised there continue to proliferate. Story by Erin Schulte



engage globally

The transdisciplinary project team includes ASU faculty members Gaymon Bennett, associate professor of religious studies who is co-leading the project with Hurlbut, along with co-investigators Linell Cady, founding director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict, Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, director of Jewish Studies, and Gregg Zachary, a writer and professor of practice in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society.

the vocabulary to really see or make sense of their deep entanglement, hence we don’t see the implications for science policy and the research priorities such policies establish,” says Cady.

be socially embedded

To explore these issues, the project team is undertaking a series of field studies to examine the interplay of spiritual ideas with scientific and technological projects in the biosciences, environmentalism, and global health. In turn, they will also investigate the ways in which these sciences are simultaneously transforming notions of spiritual meaning and religious practice.

fuse intellectual disciplines

What role do spiritual and religious imaginations play in such visions?

Initiative in Peace Studies The Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Endowment at the Center for Study of Religion and Conflict was established with a gift from a private donor to enhance research and teaching on the ideas, resources, and practices that foster peace. The endowment helped create the Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies, held by Yasmin Saikia, and supports programs that bring attention to the study of peace.

The political climate regarding refugees and migrants around the world is troubling and steadily intensifying.

working group to address the issue of refugees and migrants at the intersection of peace and conflict.

Ethnic nationalism is on the rise, and anti-immigrant rhetoric was a key feature in the Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and Donald Trump’s election in the United States.

Migration, Refugees, and Religious Perspectives

While the implications of these political developments continues to unfold, some of the conditions that create migration flows—economic displacement, civil war, and natural disasters, for example—are ever present. Most experts predict that climate change will only intensify these factors in the future. In light of these significant global challenges, there is an urgent need to think about the increased resistance to refugees and migrants and what such attitudes say about our understanding of peace. The Center’s Hardt-Nickachos Peace Studies Initiative brought attention to these issues through an academic workshop, annual film series, and the formation of a 15


The workshop “Migration, Refugees, and Religious Perspectives” engaged a broad conversation by bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars offering empirical, theoretical, and normative reflections. The workshop explored how religion factors into a cluster of questions including: How is religion a factor in who gets accepted or rejected among refugee and migrant communities? How does the religious diversity of immigrants threaten or enrich host communities? How does the perception of a refugee shift from being a person in need to a threat that needs to be contained? The participants included scholars with expertise in a range of geographic locations (Turkey, the UK, the US/Mexico border, Australia) and multiple disciplines (sociology, law, immigration studies, religious studies, peace studies, and Mexican American studies).

Many of the participants were particularly concerned about the animus toward Muslim refugees and migrants due to Islamophobia.

Building Peace by Transforming Strangers Into Neighbors



engage globally

The film and discussion made a strong impact on the audience. The staff of the Center worked with attendees interested in creating similar events in their communities.

be socially embedded

The film series also featured an expert panel that included Aysar Al Khafaji, a former refugee and employee at the International Rescue Committee in Phoenix, and David Androff, associate professor in the School of Social Work. The discussion was moderated by Yasmin Saikia, Hardt-Nickachos Chair in Peace Studies and professor of history.

fuse intellectual disciplines

From meeting Ghoussoon, a former nurse who started a business to provide for her three children, to the streetsmart 10-year-old Raouf, whose trauma hides just beneath his ever present smile, the filmmakers reveal inspiring stories of individuals rallying to rebuild their lives and those of their neighbors.

use-inspired research

This year’s Peace Studies Film Series showcased the documentary Salam Neighbor. The movie tells the story of two American filmmakers who travel to the Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan to report on and live among 85,000 Syrian refugees. By embedding in the camp, the filmmakers provide an intimate look at the heartbreak and hope behind the headlines of the world’s most dire refugee crisis.

enable student success

Historical perspectives illuminated some of the ways these issues have played out, and there was sustained discussion about how religion can work to undermine or reinforce negative perceptions of refugees.

transforming society

With a hostility toward refugees and migrants increasing around the world, the workshop participants focused on creating new outlooks and concrete approaches to social justice.

Friends of the Center Research Awards Funding from the Friends of the Center supports the Center’s undergraduate and graduate student programs, including the undergraduate fellows program and the Friends of the Center research awards. These awards provide grants to graduate and undergraduate students for innovative research projects and international engagement. Funded activities range from participation in peacebuilding programs to research projects, including travel, summer support, and archival research. Here are our 2017 winners:

Tiffany Trent Doctoral student in Theatre Advisor: Stephani Woodson, Professor, School of Film, Dance and Theatre Project: Spaces Speak: Radical Welcome in Youth Performing Arts Spaces on Chicago’s South Side

Nathan Tarr Doctoral student in Political Science Advisor: Carolyn Warner, Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies Project: Repressing Faith: Repression, Religion, and Variations in Violence Are religious groups different than other dissident groups when it comes to violence? Tarr found that when it comes to threats to traditional culture, religious freedom, and the expansion of women’s rights, religious groups are more likely to respond with violence than other dissident groups regardless of religion or region. Next steps are to identify key variables that promote peace.



Trent explored the interplay among physical space, religious ideas, and conceptions of “the child” in her study of art-based peacebuilding programs on Chicago’s Southside. With the goal of identifying variables that create supportive youth spaces, she analyzed religious and secular language, images, activities, and environments to propose a new concept of “the child” that will both humanize and sacrilize as a process of peacebuilding.

transforming society

Margaret Tucker Undergraduate student in Geography and Political Science Advisor: Thorin Wright, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and Global Studies Project: Critical Cartography and Conflict Resolution in the Caucasus (Azerbaijan)

enable student success

Through her course work and experiences abroad, Tucker has developed a passion for the study of territorial conflict transformation. This summer she traveled to Baku, Azerbaijan to learn firsthand how Armenian and Azerbaijani experts are using modern cartography and data science to enhance the possibilities for negotiating and resolving terroritorial disputes across religious, ethnic, linguistic, legal and nationalist lines.

Alana Vehaba

fuse intellectual disciplines

Buddhist monks, nuns, and ordinary citizens die by self-immolation each year in Tibet to protest the Chinese occupation. Vehaba explores how this impacts the Tibetan refugee community’s attitudes towards the Tibetan Freedom Movement. She studied how such violence is viewed in relation to the community’s commitment to non-violence and in relation to debates about the role of self-sacrifice in political movements.

use-inspired research

Doctoral student in Justice and Social Inquiry Advisor: Shahla Talebi, Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Project: Harnessed Flames: Analyzing Self-Immolation in Tibet and Its Impact in Exile

be socially embedded

Kyla Pasha Doctoral student in Religious Studies Advisor: Shahla Talebi, Associate Professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Project: Fleeting Utopias: Creating Ritual and Community Space from Queer Muslim Longings

engage globally

Pasha’s research focuses on how gay and lesbian Muslims attempt to live religiously observant lives. She explores the conflicted, sometimes violent, moments that queer Muslims experience in normative Islamic gatherings. By carrying out comparative research in the U.S. and in South Asia, she is deepening understanding of how gay and lesbian Muslims create safe spaces in which to practice their faith. Students


BIG IDEAS FOR BIG DATA Alumna Speaks to Impact Meet CSRC alumna Erin Schulte. Schulte, who graduated in Spring 2017 with a degree in global studies and minors in political science and economics, was awarded the prestigious Marshall Scholarship and is at King’s College London this fall. In this interview with Sarah Lords, she shares her experiences with the Center and how they shaped her decisions about her future. Q: Let’s start out with some background. How did you get involved with the Center? During my freshman year at ASU, I had a class where we read passages from the Bible and the Qu’ran. Through that class, I learned how texts can be interpreted in various ways, which really illustrated how important it is to consider context, especially when discussing religious conflicts around the world. My professor sensed my growing interests and recommended that I apply for the Undergraduate Research Fellows Program at the center. Q: How did the fellowship impact you? It completely changed my career trajectory! The fellows program gave me the opportunity to work with Dr. Lenka Bustikova, researching ethnic conflicts involving the status of the Russian language in Ukraine. It was fascinating, timely work that inspired my interest in data 19


analytics. Thanks to that experience, I now intend to pair my interests in studying conflict and international development with Big Data analysis to help rebuild postconflict zones. Q: You mentioned that your experiences with the Center were helpful for your Marshall Scholarship application. How so? The Marshall Scholarship places heavy emphasis on academics and research, so my research experience through the fellows program definitely set me apart from other applications. Also, since the seminar is small, students are able to really build a rapport with faculty, which made Dr. Cady an obvious choice to write a letter of recommendation on my behalf. Q: Do you think the insights you gained being part of the Center’s programs will shape your graduate research? Absolutely. I had a chance to see a presentation through the center on the use of big data to study terrorist social media recruitment methods and to possibly predict and prevent future threats. The project absolutely fascinated me, and it is part of what led me to propose graduate study in big data in culture and society as one of the two degrees I will earn as a Marshall Scholar. I hope to bring this interest for Big Data analytics to my future career in international development to increase the effectiveness of development projects and maybe even to use predictive analytics to prevent or mitigate certain humanitarian disasters before they hit a critical point.

transforming society

Undergraduate Fellows Research Program

enable student success

The Center’s Undergraduate Research Fellows—selected from a pool of outstanding applicants—take a special seminar with the Center director, work directly with faculty members on research projects related to a broad range of topics and approaches, and meet with visiting scholars and practitioners. Fellows are also awarded scholarships made possible through annual gifts by Friends of the Center.



Major: Political Science & Economics Faculty Mentor: Sonja Klinsky Project: “Peace and Reconciliation for Climate Change? Exploring a New Potential Approach”

Major: Justice Studies & Economics Faculty Mentor: Keith Miller Project: “Religion and Nonviolent Resistance in the Civil Rights Movement”

Major: Business (Global Politics) Faculty Mentor: Lenka Bustikova Project: “Paramilitary Groups in Ukraine and Far Right Mobilization”

Major: Political Science & Economics Faculty Mentor: Abdullahi Gallab Project: “The Last of the Islamists”





Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: David Siroky Project: “After Secession: Matrioshka Nationalism in New States”

Major: Business (Global Politics) Faculty Mentor: John Carlson Project: “Religion and Global Citizenship”

Major: History & Religious Studies Faculty Mentor: Jason Bruner Project: “Comparative Genocide Testimony Project”

Major: History & Religious Studies Faculty Mentor: Owen Anderson Project: “Religion in World Civilizations”




Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Eugene Clay Project: “Mapping Religious Conflict in Eurasia, 1991-2016”

Major: Global Studies Faculty Mentor: Daniel Rothenberg Project: “Are Armed Non-State Actors Inherently Barbaric? An Interdisciplinary Overview and Foundation for Improved Policy”

Major: Political Science Faculty Mentor: Souad Ali Project: “Women and Gender Issues in the Muslim Middle East”

fuse intellectual disciplines


use-inspired research


be socially embedded engage globally



Religion and Social Change: How MLK’s Letter Teaches Students About the Dynamics of Religion and Conflict Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” was written in 1963 following his imprisonment for violating a judge’s injunction against peacefully marching. The piece, one scholar called “the most cogent and influential defense of nonviolent resistance ever written,” is a particularly powerful way for teaching about the complex role of religion in public life. Linell Cady, founding director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and professor of religious studies, uses the letter in her teaching. According to Cady, the letter illuminates the way in which religion can heighten conflict, as well as serve as a bridge to peace. Seen through the lens of race, religion can be a powerful force for social action on behalf of democratic ideals. In reflecting on the current climate of protests and concerns around hate crimes in the country, we asked Cady and several of the center’s undergraduate fellows about the meaning and impact of reading King’s famous letter. Q: What are some of the insights that you want your students to come away with from studying the letter? Cady: Reading King’s letter really brings home the point that peace is not simply the absence of conflict—that peacebuilding isn’t simply to contain or end violence and conflict. It must include creating a more equitable world—a just and sustainable peace. Additionally, King’s works—along with Gandhi’s work that we also read—testify to the powerful and progressive role that religion can play in social transformation. As King puts it, his Christian faith compels him to be a nonviolent “extremist for love.” That said, the fact that King calls out his fellow Christian ministers puts a spotlight on the way that Christianity has also sanctioned and offered a moral cover of sorts to the racial injustice in our history. By this, students realize a 21


critical lesson: religions cannot be essentialized. Any religion, regardless of what it is, offers a diverse variety of moral and political positions. Undergraduate Research Fellows Odessa Clugston, a junior in Justice Studies and Political Science, and Chris Jordan, a senior in Business and Global Studies, read the letter as part of the program and shared these thoughts: Q: So you read “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in Dr. Cady’s class. What did the reading mean to you? What lessons did you take from it? Clugston: Though I had read the letter several times throughout high school, reading the piece amidst our current political climate made the message further resonate. Though Dr. King accomplished incredible strides towards equality, our nation still struggles to recognize the human dignity of all communities. This piece continually reminds me that the path towards social justice is a living ideal that requires continual work to achieve—an ideal that we all must work towards together. Jordan: For me, the letter humanized King. It is one of the best examples of King as a firebrand who is deeply frustrated and determined. I think it’s important to see the joint image of MLK as a radical, frustrated individual in addition to the saintly caricature that is often portrayed. Clugston: I think the key lesson I continually learn from Dr. King’s work is that addressing injustice has always been—and will continue to be—complicated and hard. Progress is not always linear, and the fact that issues discussed in the letter persist today reminds us all of that point. Only through standing up for what one believes can greater equality be achieved. Jordan: Absolutely. In the letter, King argues that institutions of religion should be used as powerful tools in the moral fight against segregation. In a political climate that is so hostile to certain people of faith while others stand idly by, this is a pretty important takeaway.

transforming society enable student success use-inspired research

Photo (left to right): Seth Myers, Victoria McDonald, Jonathan Wesserman, Ali Feder, and John D. Carlson

The certificate offers an exciting way to “mainstream religion” across the curriculum, especially important for students where knowledge of religion is increasingly vital to their vocations and professions. The program has graduated over 100 students since its launch in 2009, including 9 students who earned certificates in 2016-17: • Victoria McDonald, Global Studies

• Parker Baty, History

• Seth Myers, Political Science

• Teya Cuellar, Biochemistry

• Paige Price, Speech and Hearing Science

• Ali Feder, Political Science

• Jonathan Wasserman, Computer Science

engage globally

• Ashley D’Attilio, Mass Communications

• John Luebke, History & Political Science Students

be socially embedded

This program allows students from any major to gain a broad multidisciplinary understanding of the dynamics of religion, conflict, and peace. Established with support from the Ford Foundation, faculty from over ten fields offer courses on such topics as “Religion, War and Peace,” “Communication, Conflict, and Negotiation,” “Women’s Rights and Religion from an International Perspective,” “Terrorism, War and Justice,” and “Envisioning Peace.”

fuse intellectual disciplines

Undergraduate Certificate in Religion and Conflict


Event Highlights Religion, Conflict and Terrorism in the Public Consciousness featuring John Carlson, Anand Gopal, Daniel Rothenberg, Delia Saenz and Linell Cady Panelists from the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict and the Center on the Future of War reflected on the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11. They were especially concerned with the way certain narratives have become entrenched, and they challenged the audience to think about whose interest such narratives serve. As Anand Gopal observed, “We need to dismantle this idea of political Islam as this sort of thing that explains what’s happening. We need to really look at the local contexts and try to understand what political processes led these formations to come about. There are many different alternatives to the way that people express their discontent with the status quo…religion is just one of them.”

Religion and Conflict: A View From the State Department featuring Shaun Casey As the U.S. Special Representative for Religion and Global Affairs in the Obama administration, Shaun Casey advised the Secretary of State on policy matters, especially where religion was concerned. Much of this work concerned the effort to counter violent extremism, and in that role Casey met with religious as well as secular groups around the globe. “Understanding context is clearly a critical component to any success in any initiative to counter violent extremism,” said Casey. “Religion is always embedded in specific and complex contexts, and this is important to know in order to ensure that the role of religion is not generalized or stereotyped with regard to violent extremism.”

Presidental Politics and the Making of American Identity featuring Edward E. Curtis IV, Robert P. Jones, Laura R. Olson and Linell Cady What role did religion, race, and gender play in the 2016 presidential campaign? What groups supported Clinton or Trump and why? What does the future of religion in American politics hold? These are a few of the questions that Linell Cady posed to panelists Robert P. Jones from the Public Religion Research Institute, Edward E. Curtis IV from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and Laura R. Olson from Clemson University. Changing demographics are a real problem according to Jones. “It is not going to be good for the country for there to be one party that is very diverse and made up of younger generations, and another party that is essentially a homogeneous, ageing, white Christian party. That’s not a recipe for a healthy democracy.” 23


featuring Shadi Hamid

use-inspired research

Making Sense of the Trump Revolt: Where Do the Two Parties Go from Here?

enable student success

Is politics the new religion? This was the question at the heart of a lecture by Shadi Hamid, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Hamid observed that democracies have been held together by feelings of group identity and social solidarity, and religion has historically been the glue that facilitated that. But there is also an alternative possibility related to the secularization thesis, according to Hamid. “We assume that religion being less central in political discourse is a positive thing, but it’s not necessarily the case that with the decline of mainstream Christianity that something good replaces it. It’s possible that worse things replace it; in this case, white nationalism.”

transforming society

Religion and Democracy in a New Global Era

featuring Joshua Mitchell fuse intellectual disciplines be socially embedded

Joshua Mitchell, a political philosopher from Georgetown University, explored the interaction of identity politics, globalization, and citizenship. “My argument is there is no such thing as universal globalization,” said Mitchell. “Post-1989 there has been this experiment to move in that direction that’s both developed this global persona and this lonely isolated persona that has evolved into activism, but no citizenship.” This has been aided by the digital revolution, according to Mitchell, and it is a catastrophe. Mitchell countered that the people “live in a place” and suggested that part of Trump’s appeal is his language of place.

engage globally



Together our potential is limitless. Gifts from Friends of the Center help support research and education initiatives of the Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict. Your contributions fund student fellowship programs; bring innovative thinkers, writers, and practitioners to campus; and help build a network for research and dissemination that includes students, faculty, professionals, practitioners, and policy experts. The Center thanks the many friends who contributed to our sustained progress during the 2016-17 academic year. Silver (up to $250) Anonymous (2) Stephen C. Bartlett Patricia Bauer LoAnn and Edwin Bell Charles and Rebecca Berry Eugene and Wildith Brady Peter Buseck Donna Campbell Platinum (up to $25,000) Jane Canby Penny Davis Grace and William Chaffee Jerry Hirsch Seija Farber Tom and Ruth Ann Hornaday Robert and Rosemarie Fitzsimmons Carolyn Forbes Gold (up to $2,500) Al Gephart Anonymous Prem and Jiwan Goyal Bijan and Fariba Ansari Gisela Grant John and Judith Ellerman Terrence Gregg Margaret Gooch Jennifer and Gary Grossman Kevin and Yolanda McAuliffe Rebecca Grubaugh Laura and Herb Roskind Nancy Hart Vernon Higginbotham Maroon (up to $1,000) Fatina Hijab Anonymous (2) Rev. Earl and Mrs. Holt Susan and Bill Ahearn Doris Horn Greg Altschuh and Janis Lipman Sol Jaffe Linell Cady Roger Johnson John Carlson Susan Jones Mary Kathleen Collins Dale Kalika and Robert McPhee Matt Correa Thomas and Barbara Leard Ann and Brian Jordan Ronald D. MacDonald David and Joan Lincoln Roy and Mary Miller Tom and Vicky Taradash Susan Weidner Lifetime Friends Ann Hardt Stan and Tochia Levine Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Richard and Elaine Morrison Doug and Becky Pruitt John Roberts John Whiteman



Jeanne R. Miyasaka Katherine Morosoff Michael H. Morris Steven L. Neuberg Catherine O’Donnell Emmett Pearse O’Grady Michael O’Sullivan Laurie Perko Judith P. Pillon Arnold Rabin Marvin and Amy Richman Aleda Richter-West Roger S. Robinson Fatima Mohamed Said Warren and Martha Salinger Cayetano Santiago Cliff and Patricia Schutjer Donald K. Sharpes Marge Thornton Roberta Van der Walde Carole Weiss Sandra Whitley Gwen Williams Jeff and Janell Wright

Investing in the Center has a positive impact on students, faculty, and the community. transforming society

To make a donation online, go to asufoundation.org/religionandconflict. To make a donation by mail, checks may be made payable to the ASU Foundation/CSRC and sent to:

K 15

enable student success


To make a major gift, contact Gwyn Goebel, Major Gifts Officer, at (480) 965-9882 or Gwyn.Goebel@asu.edu.

use-inspired research



e y th d ud y n d st d b s a cte of te nt e s en de nn ea es tu co r ar pr s rs nte re 00+ la Ce 2 ho e sc th to

All funds will be deposited with the ASU Foundation for a New American University, a separate non-profit organization that exists to support ASU. Your gift may be considered a charitable contribution. Please consult with your tax advisor regarding the deductibility of charitable contributions.

in d f ge n o ga io en uss d g ds c n in c in is t a ld li m e d flic ui ub th n eb h p co eac ug p ro ts th ven e

Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict Arizona State University PO Box 870802 Tempe, AZ 85287-0802

fuse intellectual disciplines

9 14

be socially embedded

s te ia o fil t he re af ting d t utu lty u an of f cu rib h fa nt arc ion ns co se cat tio re u ra ed ene g

M 7.7 $1

y, ud g st nd t in o , a ic nd d t d nfl fu re tan co of ecu ers ize s d m un ini m



Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict 4

Year in Review

PO Box 870802 | Tempe, AZ 85287-0802 480.965.7187 | 480.965.9611 (fax) csrc@asu.edu | csrc.asu.edu

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.